Board Meeting, December 9, 2014

Held at District Offices, 575 North 100 East, American Fork, Utah

There are two individual reports on this meeting.

by Kara Sherman

Community Comments:
Allison—approval of red boundary for new Lehi HS. Wants all of her area to go to the new high school.

Amy—echoes what Allison says as a neighbor. Understands now the reasons for the new HS and how it affects population in the old Lehi HS. Supports the red boundary.

Rob—agrees with having the high schools to retain the feeder schools—pure feeder school. Based on performance of students. Wonders about the business development side of the coin and not only on the residential side of the coin as the board seems to do.

Jacque—thankful to the board about how hard the decisions are made. Supports the red zone. Feels that the board is concerned about what the number show rather than what the children are concerned

Dr Henshaw says they have been heard, they have been listened to, committee put the red option up there because the parents wanted to see another option, explains how it is analyzed, etc. The board is struggling back and forth just like the committee

Kristen—boundary proposal, supports red boundaries, doesn’t think numbers are important, social and economic growth—although just threw out there an exact number—looks at the social aspects.

Landon—Supports red boundary (JoDee gave him a perm the day before he started JH—lots of laughter) directly affects his 10th grader next year. Supports the red border. Concerned with sports and how it affects baseball.

Jason—patronizes their hard jobs, wants continuity with their education through the feeder schools, his biggest thing is the social aspect, doesn’t feel like the numbers mean anything.

Dr Henshaw talking again about the personal aspects like this—several of them have gone through it personally with their own families, as educators and principals, as board members. When things impact young people they feel that personally. Mentioned the two 3rd graders missing for a few hours.

Dr. Bezzant–Just got out of the hospital. Wants to tell the board after the last meeting that he appreciates them. Gave a bust of Lincoln to the ASD to be in the lobby. He’s reading a quote on education from Lincoln.

Business Portion of Meeting:

Pleasant Grove property acquisition—next to PGHS. Passed.

Water easement resolution near Vista Heights—to the LDS Church for a building. Passed.

Amended Land Trust plans—approved already for the year as a technical point they ask that amended things be approved as following the letter of the law. You can go online to see these. Passed.

Membership Reports—current for this year the month of November. From Oct 1 to now is 116—normal. If it decreases in a school they don’t take the teacher or aide out they leave them there for the year and make the adjustment the next year. The elementary growth stays pretty much stable.

Board members and Superintendent items:

Scott Carlson—board of trustees voted last week for classifications and regions. 5A and 4A school including Orem HS stayed in regions they were in.

Adjourned 7pm sharp.

 

 

by Kiersten Armknecht

Community Comments:

Allison Stowers, Amy Jacobson, Rob Sandberg, Jacque, B., Kristen Butikofer, Landon and Jason Bott all spoke about the potential boundaries for the high schools in Lehi. They were all in favor of the red boundary that has been discussed. They preferred the red boundary for social reasons (keeping the students from the same jr. high together), safety, obvious boundaries(the business district and 1-15 divides their neighborhood from Lehi High), continuity in the community, ease the future construction at Lehi High and athletics. They recognized that there is the possibility that their particular neighborhood might be able to choose which school to attend but felt that choice might still be harder than having their neighborhood drawn into the boundary for the new high school. Some also like the idea of having a feeder school – felt that it helps with academic performance. One parent asked “how do we represent our children, how do we best share our voice?”


All those who commented shared their appreciation for the hard work the district staff and board have done. It is a huge job. Supt. Henshaw also commented that the district has heard them and that the red option was a result of their feedback.

Mark Bezzant presented a bust of Abraham Lincoln to ASD and recognized the great things happening in the district.

Minutes and claims for November were approved.

Routine business approved.

 

Action items:

PG property acquisition approved – SE corner where tennis courts are. Water easement in Saratoga Springs approved. Amended trust land plans approved

Scott Carlson spoke about the USHAA realignment vote. He also spoke during the study session about feedback concerning the high school boundaries and was appreciated by those who commented at the beginning of the meeting.

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Study Session, December 9, 2014

by Robin Allred

held at District Offices, 575 North 100 East, American Fork, Utah

Enrollment discussion by that department:

Enrollment projections very close to actual. I had other commitments and missed much of it. I believe they are available online. Growth out west is substantial in secondary schools, but tapering off in elementary due to declining birth rate (from where it was six years ago). Westlake projection for 2019 is approximately 3600 students.

Boundary Presentation by Sam Jarman:

New elementary in Lehi will include Jordan Willows if proposed boundary is accepted Jordan Willows looks like Alaska on the map. They are currently bussed and will continue to be bussed. Snow Springs will have 918. New Elementary 725. North Point 867. The new elementary will have more growth than the other schools.

New high school two proposals, blue option original proposal, red option proposed by many people. The committee supports the blue plan (about 2/3 of the committee) for three reasons: 1-population 2-transportation needs 3- need for a third Lehi high school in about 8 years possibly on 1500, likely to affect Harvest Hills subdivision, dependent on acquiring land, passing bond, etc. They don’t want to change boundaries later on, because high school boundary changes are brutal! A junior high will also be needed to alleviate crowding at Willowcreek and Vista. A high school in Eagle Mountain will also be needed.

Trying to clean up boundary lines following city lines for Shelly and Sego Lilly elementary. Shelley feeds AF system. Sego Lilly feeds Lehi system.

We would like to have a pure feeder system, but unfortunately in some situations there really isn’t a good way to do that. We do what we can. We consider social impact, but there are other factors that we also need to look at.

Freedom Elementary students from certain areas would be allowed choice during the time that the school is closed to establish attendance and boundaries, usually 1-3 years. All high schools are open after that phase. All existing high schools are currently open to out of area.

Scott Carlson shared concerns from patrons and suggested choice for certain areas. Parents have social concerns. We should consider those requests.

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Study Session, November 25, 2014

by Joyce Mitchell

Held at Pleasant Grove Junior High

55% of the district’s money come from Residential taxes and 22% from commercial. Not only has our district been recognized with 85 other schools nationwide for excellence in reference to our financial reporting but there are many districts throughout the country that use our documents as a model for their own. If you want to see it go to AlpinesSchool.org –>Departments –>Business services–> Resources/Transparency-->Annual Financial Report.

Page 2 of the report shows that we have a student population of 72,467 (comparing it to last year’s # that is 1,700 MORE students) making it the 47th largest district in the nation.
Although it’s growing by leaps and bounds the district has made a decision long ago that they will stay the course of more emphasis on building improvement than building expansion.

They discussed the tricky business of finding more money (state or local or private) to boost a program that the Fed has decreased funding of. They revealed that to do so puts us on the hook for a greater portion of the funds forever after. To walk away from all federal funding (so we didn’t have to deal with strings attached) would put Utahans on the hook to cover $35 mill in funding every year.

Last, they are about to implement pay incentives for teachers through team performance evaluation. It has worked elsewhere, with testimonials from teachers who would never want to go back to the old culture of working by yourself and not benefiting from the perspective of fellow teachers or even knowing them.

The Superintendent assured everyone that as the program needs to be tweaked it will be, but the board and others have worked hard to come up with this over a long period of time and they are ready to see how it goes.

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School Board Meeting – November 25, 2014

by Autumn Cook

Held at Pleasant Grove Junior High School

Several students were recognized for their achievements and positive contribution to PGJH.

Alpine Foundation recognized 6 individuals for their contribution at PGJH: 2 teachers, 2 staff members, and 2 volunteers.

PGJH Principal Jolley made a presentation about what’s going on at PGJH. PTSA President Sandy Call made a presentation about the organization’s activities.

A representative of the School Community Council discussed the SCC’s activities, mentioning that the SCC’s mini-grants this year are going largely to technology in the classrooms.

 

Public Comment

Many of the public comments were on the Orem University Mall Interlocal Agreement, also known as the CDA (Commercial Development Agreement.) It is an arrangement whereby a taxing entity – such as a city or a school district – allows a developer to pay less than the amount it would usually be assessed in taxes for a given period of years, in this case 20 years.

Margaret Black, Orem City Council member, spoke in favor of CDA.

Andrew Jackson, Executive Director of Mountainland Association of Governments, spoke in favor of CDA, pointing out that our “fiscally conservative legislature” created that law that allows for these types of arrangements.

Julie King, Saratoga Springs resident, spoke against the CDA.

Steven Baugh, former ASD administrator, spoke in favor of the CDA. He said it was important for government to give incentives to business.

Norman Wright, Dean of the Woodbury School of Business at UVU, spoke in favor of the CDA. He noted that there’s competition between local governments for big developers activity. He suggested that if ASD doesn’t give Woodbury a tax break, they may go somewhere else besides Orem.

Rob Sandburg, Lehi resident, shared his concerns about the boundaries for the new Lehi High School under construction. He noted that he and those with whom he is working in the Sego Lily Elementary area were able to collect 600 petition signature in just two days. Their concern is that students from Lehi Junior High will be split under the proposed boundaries. He asked that the boundaries be redrawn to remedy that concern, and advocated a pure feeder school model for our District.

Mark Bezzant (sp?) commended the work of the District, and announced a donation from himself and his wife of $200 per teacher at PGJH to help with whatever they want to use it for.

Amber Gardner commented with commendation for those schools which did well on the statewide SAGE test.

Kara Sherman, American Fork resident, spoke in favor of the CDA, noting that this type of arrangement is common around the country and encouraging the District to catch up with the times.

Lynn Adams, Assistant Dean at Woodbury School of Business at UVU, spoke in favor of the CDA. He encouraged the Board to help “build an economy” because “economies don’t build themselves.”

Billy Hesterman, with the Utah Taxpayers Association, spoke against the CDA.

Randy Woodbury spoke in favor of the CDA.

Autumn Cook commented on campaign emails that were sent using District resources and time, and asked the Board to consider a resolution or policy that clarifies appropriate use of District resources in relation to campaigns. She then spoke against the CDA.

Nathan Guinn spoke against the CDA.

Hans Anderson, member of the Orem City Council, spoke against the CDA. He expressed concern for the small businesses in Orem, particularly those in the housing market, who may be driven out of business because they won’t be able to compete against a subsidized big developer and landlord. “Don’t hurt the small businesses in my city of Orem,” he said. Of Woodbury Corporation he said, “I suggest you send them back to the world of private enterprise.”

Chris Jolley, American Fork resident, commented on the campaign email situation and asked that serious measures be taken as a result of the incident.

Cameron Martin, Vice-President for University Relations at UVU, spoke in favor of the CDA. He talked about creating an “economic ecosystem that is vibrant and able to sustain and to generate good businesses.”

Lowell Nelson spoke against the CDA.

Cindy Davis spoke in favor of the CDA.

Stephanie Grant shared concerns about the boundaries for the new Lehi High School.

Lisa Dean also commented on boundary concerns.

Tanya Richardson, preschool teacher in the Freedom Elementary area, shared concerns about the boundaries for the new Lehi High in relation to students from Freedom Elementary. The proposed boundaries would divide Freedom students into 4 different schools, which is a huge concern for the people living there.

Alison Stowers also spoke about boundary concerns.

Richard Brunst, mayor of Orem, spoke in favor of the CDA. He read a letter from Governor Herbert on the issue, which said in part, “Local elected officials should have economic development as their primary goal.”

 

The Board voted 4-3 to approve the Interlocal Arrangement, 4-3. Voting in favor: John Burton, Scott Carlson, JoDee Sundberg, Debbie Taylor. Voting against: Brian Halladay, Wendy Hart, Paula Hill.

 

The Financial Report for 2013-2014 was presented. The accounting firm Squire reported a passing audit, commending ASD as a leader in school financial reporting. Repeated thanks were offered by the Board and Superintendent to Greg Holbrook, who has served as ASD Accounting Director for 20-30 years (I didn’t catch the exact length of service) and is retiring in the near future. The Board voted 7-0 to approve the report.

 

Student Excursion Requests were approved 7-0.

 

Board Member reports:

Paula Hill reported on meetings about suicide and bullying.

Wendy Hart presented a proposal for opting out of 3rd-party data collection.

Scott Carlson reported on the reviewing of school athletic status (between 5A, 4A, etc.) The public hearing on these changes was held on December 3rd.

 

Meeting was adjourned.

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Study Session & Board Meeting – September 9, 2014

by Michelle Treadwell

Study Session

Rob Smith gave an overall report about how things are going thus far in the school year–transportation, facility management, etc. He said they need more support to handle work orders b/c they’ve added so many facilities.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, The board (& administrators) discussed “chronic absenteeism,” something states and districts are starting to look at & study.

They reviewed a U of U study showing that students who are “chronically absent” (for the study, this was 10% of school days, or about 18) are much more likely to not graduate from high school. They also discussed all the things that lead to absenteeism–family problems, kids not liking a teacher or school, health issues, transportation, parental support, language barrier, etc. They said parents also sometimes think that absences don’t matter in elementary school and/or if they are “excused” (by the parents).

At this point, Wendy Hart raised the following concerns:
1) We have to be very careful when talking about absences. We must differentiate between parent-excused absences and truancies.
2) “Chronic absenteeism” will show up on two extremes: kids who are chronically truant and those who do well in school and are excused by parents for family for educational reasons.
3) It’s starting to sound like the ABILITY TO BE AT SCHOOL trumps ALL ELSE, and that’s not true.
4) State law states that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children.

Garrick Peterson, Administrator of Educational Services, said he thinks absenteeism is certainly one factor to consider, but it is only one factor. Someone in the administration (didn’t get his name) agreed and suggested that such information be used simply to alert teachers to those students who are chronically absent so they can make extra efforts to connect with the students–this is an informal, inexpensive intervention. Peterson agreed, stating that we want to use the information in a spirit of helping & not take it to a punitive place.

Board Meeting

Autumn Cook made some comments about “chronic absenteeism” (she had attended the study session, too). She commended the board for recognizing that absenteeism is a problem only in some situations & that it should not be punishable in all cases. Parents, as always, should make this final decision. She advised the board to not use absentee information more aggressively, as some states have done.

There was a LOT of discussion about the CDA for University Place in Orem. I don’t understand much of that, so I can’t really speak to it except to say that most board members seemed to support it and a couple really did not (difference in opinion whether the school board should invest money in retail projects).

A few other points…

— Wendy Hart brought up SAGE testing. She asked Judy Park (state assistant superintendent) to send her clarification & validation about what data security we have in place.
— Wendy asked the board who had read the AIR (the company that developed the SAGE tests for Utah) document that came back to Wendy from Judy (and Wendy passed on to the board). Brian Halladay and Paula Hill were the board members who had read the document. The three of them agree that they don’t see enough guarantees in place.
— Brian Halladay stated that AIR has to prove they are protecting data–the burden is on them, not on the board.
— Halladay also said that if we cannot prove the privacy of data, we HAVE to continue to let parents opt their children out of SAGE testing.

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Alpine School Board to consider resolution opposing SB 34 – Utah Education and Workforce Alliance

The Alpine School Board will consider a resolution opposing SB 34. Please try to make the time to attend the Alpine School Board meeting on Tuesday, February 11, 2014, and express your support for this resolution. SB 34 is the bill in the Utah legislature that creates the Utah Education and Workforce Alliance. There are multiple concerning elements of this bill. You can read it here.

The Board meeting will be held at the District office at 575 N 100 E, American Fork at 6:00 p.m.

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September 10, 2013 Board Meeting Report

by Robin Allred

Community Comments: 1) General concern over Common Core from a patron new to the area who isn’t sure what she believes, but is leery of a loss of local control. 2) Comment regarding the need for an honor’s program at the middle school level to adequately prepare students wishing to take honor’s and AP coursework in high school.  The pressure to ramp up after grades already count towards college admissions and scholarships is intense.  A little practice in advance would be nice.  Currently gifted classes are offered, but there is no self-select honor’s program at the middle level.

Routine business was approved.  Student expulsion item was removed, due to pending appeal. Annexation was separated out, because it seemed less routine and warranted further discussion.  Annexation was also approved.  Property is being transferred to and from Provo in the process of cleaning up boundaries.  The district boards are required to pass resolutions regarding the annexation after which the county and state handle the money issues related to attached bonds and so forth.

Reappointment of Rob Smith, Business Administrator:  Rob received lots of accolades from everyone on the board.  Wendy thanked him for answering her many questions and explained that her “confidence” in him was “earned.”  Rob Smith is known for being conservative in spending and for letting the board know as they establish priorities that they can have virtually “anything [they] want, just not everything [they] want.”  The district has been able to make it through years of plenty and lean years by being cautious about what they spend.

Change in location for Oct 8 meeting:  The meeting is being moved to Westmore Elementary.  The dedication of the elementary is from 6-7.  The board meeting will follow at 7pm.  The study session should still be at 4pm.  Please check district website for confirmation.

Opening of School Report by Sam Jarman, Assistant Superintendent over K-12 education:

The opening of school was not perfect, but as smooth as it gets.  ASD is not only the largest district in the state in terms of population, but it is also very large geographically, taking in 14 municipalities.  Coordinating is no small feat.  Number of students is up 1,829 from last year, but down around 700 from projections (1%).  ASD has 7,292 employees.

Class size reduction is a priority of the board.  50.5 FTEs (full-time equivalent a.k.a. teachers) were added for targeted class size reduction where classes were especially large.  Reductions took classes down significantly.  Classes in one grade at a school were reduced from 36 to 28, 31-25 at another.  There were an additional 248 classrooms that were allocated 466 additional aide hours to help meet the needs of students.

Professional Development is a priority in ASD much summer training went on for teachers.  Training included training on the new core.

Extended year programs exist to help students.  At the high school level it is used 75% of the time for credit recovery and 25% of the time for acceleration.  At the elementary level STARS reading targets struggling readers in grades K-2 and SIMS helps those entering 7th grade who are below level.  The reading programs are funded by donations to the Alpine School District Foundation.

79% of schools in ASD received “A” or “B” grades on the new UCAS system.  Higher than most districts.

AFJH getting much needed new classrooms to accommodate their 1900 students.  They have more students than 5 of 8 district high schools.

Opening of School Report by Rob Smith, Business Administrator:  Rob says he is “delighted, but not satisfied” with all going on in Alpine School District.  Continuous improvement is the goal.  He talked in depth about efforts that are made to build buildings that are safe in earthquakes.  The seismic safety checks they perform are impressive.  Schools are essentially built on underground stilts with very strong, thick rebar which moves with the earth during quakes reducing the possibility of serious damage.

A new accounting system has been adopted.  Training is going on daily.  The hope is to integrate with existing systems to make payment systems more convenient for parents.

Rob Smith says that by following the money you can see the board’s priority.  Class size reduction is a great example of that.

Transportation brainstormed the idea of having a Kindergarten Specialist to help coordinate plans with schools for keeping kindergartners safe and in the right place.  A record low 5 kindergartners still ended up on the wrong buses, but drivers were able to coordinate and quickly get them home safely.  The transportation department covers over 3.6 million miles yearly.

ASD has received awards for their excellence from the ASBO and GFOA for the last 28 years straight.  Other districts look to them as an example.  They have a AA1 bond rating, only falling short of the AAA due to factors outside of their control, average household income, but were considered for a AAA rating this year, at a time when many large organizations are being downgraded.  This is helpful when borrowing is necessary.  They are looking at rates for the bond being around 2.9%, which is slightly up based on rising interest rates, but excellent for today’s rates.

Taxing entity committee:  Discussing RDA in American Fork, Egg Farm.  There is also a CDA under consideration along the Lindon/Pleasant Grove border.  They are considering providing incentives for businesses to build there.  Rob assured the board that their priorities and standards for tax break considerations have been communicated.

Brian Halladay email from parent regarding concerns about the book “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison:

A selection from this book is among the suggested reading materials to analyze in eleventh grade English under the new common core.  While the passage itself is not the more objectionable portion of the book.  The book itself has material that would be objectionable in this and most communities.  (My understanding was that the book contained a descriptive account of a child rape.)  No teacher or school in the district, to anyone’s knowledge, has recommended the book, but because it appears on the College Board’s (AP) recommendation list as a possible candidate for questions on the AP English examination there is great concern that it will be seen as recommended.  Wendy Hart explained that this situation is a prime example of the problems associated with a “loss of local control.”  We can’t control what appears on the AP exams therefore participation in such programs, and reading things from associated recommended reading lists is kind of enter at your own risk territory.

The board discussed adding some kind of disclaimer to reading lists that materials are not being recommended by the board or by teachers and that parents are responsible for the screening of reading materials that their students choose to read.  A caution will be given to English teachers in the district regarding the content of the above book.

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